Cherry Blossom Report 2014
Official cherry blossom reports by japan-guide.com

2014 Cherry Blossom Forecast - Schedule of upcoming reports - Popular cherry blossom spots
How to do hanami? - Cherry tree varieties - Post your own report

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2014/04/02 - Kumamoto Report
by sean

Outside Kumamoto Castle (Naga-bei castle wall)

For the most of Kyushu, the cherry blossom season had begun slightly earlier this year than the average year, by about three to five days. Following that, continuous warm temperatures had encouraged quick progress, and the sakura of many prefectures in the region had reached their best by around the end of last week, beating the average by around five to seven days.

Kumamon is the famous bear mascot of Kumamoto who won the nationwide popularity contest in 2011

Ensuing Scott's visit on March 28, today I visited Kumamoto to check out its castle and Suizenji Park. The season at the city peaked on March 27 is currently at a late stage. Those planning to come for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) should do so soon before the last petals fall. The weather is forecast to be generally mild and sunny over the next couple of days, and that makes for a pleasant visit.

Elsewhere in Tokyo and Nagoya, Scott and Raina will respectively be writing about the cherry blossom situations there, so please tune in to their reports on this page.

Kumamoto Castle
April 2, 2014 - beyond peak

Kumamoto Castle is reputed to be one of the best castles in Japan, and rightfully so because of its beautiful main keep and castle palace, as well as its many turrets and castle buildings which are important cultural properties. It is also, like most castles are, a great cherry blossom spot. Today, however, I had come slightly late for this year's best sakura viewing period, and a majority of the branches had already shedded most of their petals.

Kumamoto Castle

Hanami picnics

Last petals

Activity at the main keep

View from the top floor of the main keep

Nevertheless, cherry blossoms or not, a visit to Kumamoto Castle is always great. I toured around the castle compound and marveled at its great donjon and stone walls, and took some time to visit the castle palace, which was restored relatively recently and opened to the public in 2008.

Castle walls

One of the most prestigious rooms in the castle palace

Impressive huge beams made from Japanese Red Pine trees

Ninja alert

There was a late flowering weeping cherry tree in full bloom at the foot of the donjon

Suizenji Park
April 2, 2014 - beyond peak

Next on the itinerary was Suizenji Park, which is in part a gorgeous landscape garden and also home to an Izumi Shrine and a small Inari Shrine. There is a noh stage at which noh performances take place on rare occasions.

Like at Kumamoto Castle, the best viewing period had already passed and leaves have usurped the majority from flowers on most cherry trees. Interestingly, there were still some sakura trees in full bloom at the northern side of the park close to the Izumi Shrine; upon closer study these trees were not of the mainstream Somei Yoshino variety, but rather of a Kumamoto-cultivated variety called Chihara-zakura. Chihara cherry blossoms tend to peak up to a week after the Somei Yoshino, and it is their flowers that are currently providing some seasonal beauty to the park.

In position for a picture of "little Mount Fuji" at Suizenji Park

Last chance for hanami parties this year at the park

Petals hanging on precariously

Fallen petals

Season over at this section of the park

Chihara cherry trees in full bloom

Torii gates of the Inari Shrine

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List of Posts:
2014/05/09 - Hakodate Report
2014/05/08 - Matsumae Report
2014/05/01 - Hirosaki Report
2014/04/30 - Kakunodate Report
2014/04/24 - Kitakami Report
2014/04/23 - Mt. Fuji Report
2014/04/23 - Morioka Report
2014/04/22 - Aizu Report
2014/04/19 - Matsushima Report
2014/04/17 - Takato Report
2014/04/16 - Sendai Report
2014/04/16 - Matsumoto Report
2014/04/15 - Fukushima Report
2014/04/15 - Mount Fuji Report
2014/04/15 - Kyoto Report
2014/04/14 - Yoshino Report
2014/04/13 - Osaka Report
2014/04/12 - Kanazawa Report
2014/04/11 - Kyoto Report
2014/04/10 - Yoshino Report
2014/04/10 - Tokyo Report
2014/04/09 - Gunma Report
2014/04/09 - Hikone Report
2014/04/08 - Kyoto Report
2014/04/07 - Tokyo Report
2014/04/06 - Kyoto Report
2014/04/05 - Hiroshima Report
2014/04/05 - Matsuyama Report
2014/04/04 - Tokyo Report
2014/04/04 - Kamakura Report
2014/04/04 - Osaka Report
2014/04/03 - Kyoto Report
2014/04/03 - Fukuoka Report
2014/04/03 - Uji Report
2014/04/02 - Tokyo Report
2014/04/02 - Nagoya Report
2014/04/02 - Kumamoto Report
2014/04/01 - Kyoto Report
2014/03/31 - Tokyo Report
2014/03/29 - Kyoto Report
2014/03/28 - Kumamoto Report
2014/03/27 - Fukuoka Report
2014/03/26 - Tokyo Report
2014/03/25 - Kyoto Report